In a primetime TV schedule where there is a longstanding hole left by the absence of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s Emmy-winning workplace comedy 30 Rock, along comes their next 9-to-5 high jinks, Great News.
The NBC show, which follows a news producer (Briga Heelan) whose overbearing mother (Andrea Martin) comes to work as an intern in her newsroom, is inspired by the mother-daughter relationship of the show’s EP Tracey Wigfield.
“It’s a funny with a fast-paced dialogue and jokes per page, but it’s a show about a mother and daughter,” says Wigfield, specifying the difference in the DNA between 30 Rock and Great News.
How overbearing is Wigfield’s mother?
“My mother wanted to come here today very badly,” said the EP about this afternoon’s TCA session for the show.
“My mom’s very much the character. The good thing about her is she talks to everyone whether it’s the lady at the grocery store or Alec Baldwin. She’s very honest and there’s a happiness about her. She’s a very straight-up mom. She’s not sexy, she shops at Chico’s.”
“In fact she came in wearing Andrea’s costume,” added Heelan.
The show isn’t ripped from the headlines ala SNL, but more about “relationships” said Fey. “You can’t take ideas from the headlines, because by the time the show airs, it will be old. You can (riff off) bigger ideas than day-to-day moments,” said Fey on folding current events into an episodic series.
One motif on the show is that it deals with “generational motors,” said actor John Michael Higgins. Meaning, Great News is about fading generations, whether it’s people or the different types of anchors.
One key casting on the show was reality star Nicole Richie in what is arguably her first comedy TV series role (she plays an anchorwoman, Portia).
When asked about taking a chance on Richie (who actually auditioned for the part), Fey said: “She’s a really funny person and has an instant likability. Those are instincts you can’t teach. People have it or not. She has good timing without really pushing it.”
Then joking, Fey said, “She’s a businesswoman, she has no time for this!”
To which Carlock responded, “In fact, she’s in another meeting right now.”
Also appearing at this afternoon’s panel were EP Jack Burditt and cast members Horatio Sanz and Adam Campbell. Great News premieres April 25.